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3. Being Content

This virtue is derived from Allah’s ﷻ names: The Sustainer (Ar-Razzaq); The Lord (Ar-Rabb); and The Wise (Al-Hakeem)

                         ﴾ وَلَا تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَىٰ مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِۦٓ أَزْوَٰجًۭا مِّنْهُمْ زَهْرَةَ ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا لِنَفْتِنَهُمْ فِيهِ ۚ وَرِزْقُ رَبِّكَ خَيْرٌۭ وَأَبْقَىٰ﴿
Do not let your eyes crave what We have allowed some of the disbelievers to enjoy; the ˹fleeting˺ splendour of this worldly life, which We test them with. But your Lord’s provision ˹in the Hereafter˺ is far better and more lasting. Surah TaHa 131

Being characterized by the name of “The Sustainer” means believing that only Allah ﷻ divides subsistence among His creatures in exactly how it should be. He is “The Lord” who grants His creatures just what they need and deprives them of what harms them, for only He, “The Wise”, knows the precise kind and amount of livelihood we need to have.

Allah ﷻ says: ﴾And do not allow your eyes to long for the pleasures that We have given certain kinds of people to enjoy, for it is just the flower of the worldly life that We may test them with. But what your Lord has provided for you is better and more everlasting. ﴿(1)

Allah ﷻ has ordered us to avert our gaze from other people’s possessions and to be gratified instead with what Allah ﷻ has given us, for He bestows upon us what benefits us in this life and the hereafter. Comparing our possessions with other people will only harm us, so we should believe that what is good for us might not be suitable for others, and what is good for others might not be suitable for us.

We sometimes unwisely wonder why we do not have what other people have of titles, possessions, education, or money. We might think that we would be happier if we have the beauty, the spouse, the home of that person or another. The truth is that although we wish to have for what we think can make us happier when, in fact, we do have what should make us grateful. Allah ﷻ The Wise has allocated His subsistence exactly where it should be, and objecting to His choice can only result in our despair. By ordering us not “to look,” Allah ﷻ wants us to refrain from looking with our eyes and with our hearts at the possessions of others. In this sense, looking at others can make us compare our situations with others’ and think that we have less than what we deserve. This often happens on social media nowadays, where people celebrate their belongings and moments, which paves the way for others to envy them.
The part of the Ayah ﴾to the enjoyment that We have given certain kinds of people﴿ indicates the blessings that Allah ﷻ has given other people. He is The Wise, and only He knows how much suits each of us, so it is not for us to decide what kind and number of blessings people deserve to have. The Quran specifically tells of ﴾...kinds of people...﴿, so people are originally meant to be born differently, and we should not desire to be born tall or short, male or female, European or non-European. One of the blessings of our difference is that we complement one another, for each of us has a role in life. If we are satisfied with Allah’s ﷻ decisions for us, we become happy indeed. The significance of the flower in ﴾...the flower of the worldly life...﴿ is that flowers have a short life, just like people’s blessings in the first life, beautiful but temporary.
These blessings are not but tests, and the beautiful flower is meant ﴾…to test them with it…﴿ We either pass the test by appreciating what we have and believing that Allah ﷻ is The Sustainer or fail the test by attributing our successes and belongings to our skills or work. We either pass the test by using Allah’s ﷻ blessings in good deeds or fail the test by abusing these gifts in forbidden manners; what we do with what we have dictates whether or not we pass the test.
The Quran is Allah’s ﷻ speech to us, and in this Ayah, He guides us to reflect on Him as the Sustainer and us as His helpless worshippers. In this contemplation, we can reach complete satisfaction with our lives because we are ignorant of what truly is beneficial to us and what is not. That trip our friends took, but we did not, could have been harmful to us, and that child we did not have could have been the cause of our misery. We are humans, and we can never tell what exactly is suitable for us. The devil might whisper to us that we deserve more properties, more happiness, so we get resentful and disappointed with our lives while, instead, we should believe that what He has given us is truly the best for us.
We might look at other people’s possessions and dream of having them, but we do not know that the warmth of our family might disappear in the bigger house or that the love of a content husband might fade with the new profitable job.
The virtue of being content can solve many other issues in our lives. When we stop focusing on the merits of other countries, other jobs, other homes, we will be able to improve our countries, jobs, and homes. The more we appreciate what we have, the less our hearts desire what belongs to others. Allah ﷻ says: ﴾And do not desire what Allah has favored some of you over others, men will get what they have earned, and women will get what they have earned…﴿ (3) We all have blessings, but we all need things, so we should ask Allah ﷻ. He is The Sustainer, so He can give us more than what we can imagine; He is The Wise, so He knows just what is good for us to have. He tells us, ﴾…Rather, ask Allah for His bounty. Indeed, Allah has knowledge of all things﴿(4) Therefore, we do all that we can do to reach our dreams, get that job, pass that test, and collect that amount, but we surrender to Allah’s ﷻ will and wisdom in the result, for He knows best.
Being content is a virtue that can also help us find good husbands and wives for ourselves. Still, instead of asking Allah ﷻ for specific qualities in looks, social class, or professions, we should simply ask Him for “good” husbands or wives, and He chooses what “good” is truly good for us. “O Allah, look after all my matters on my behalf, make all the choices for me, and arrange everything in my life for me, for I am not capable of doing so by myself.” This duaa is comprehensive of all that we need to ask. It shows our submission to Allah’s ﷻ will and our complete gratification, so He satisfies us even more and more.
It would relieve our hearts and minds to commit ourselves to the Ayah: ﴾…And do not allow your eyes to long for…﴿(7) and to the Ayah ﴾But proclaim the blessings of your Lord﴿(8) We can live more peacefully when we remind ourselves of the blessings that we have and stay gratified for them. Every time it occurs to us to look at what others possess, it suffices us to remember that ﴾…but what your Lord has provided for you is [according to your essential needs], better and more everlasting﴿ (9).

A Story from the Life of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ 
After the Foray of Honayn, some of the Ansar (supporters) were annoyed to the extent of objecting to how Prophet Muhammad ﷺ divided the loot, blaming him that he had given more to the newly reverted to Islam and did not give anything to the first believers and supporters. The explanation that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ gave made them weep so remorsefully that their beards were drenched in tears. He explained to them how the reward that Allah chose for them was of greater value than what they thought. He told them that the first believers did not get any of the loot because Allah has given them a much more special reward: he will stay in Madina until he is buried in it next to them. He said: ((…I will live with you and will die with you.))(10)

Let us always say the duaa, “O Allah grant us contentment and satisfaction with everything You have chosen for us, and make us grateful for all the blessings You have bestowed upon us.”

1.Surah Tā-Hā : 131.
2.Surah An-Nisa' : 32.
3.Surah An-Nisa' : 32.
4.At-Tirmidhi 2505.
5.Surah Al-Fatiha : 6-7.
6.Surah Tā-Hā : 131.
7.Surah Ad-Duha : 11.
8.Surah Tā-Hā : 131.
9.Sahih Muslim 1780.
10.Surah Tā-Hā : 131

ADAPTED FROM: Revive Your Heart with 52 Prophetic Ethics